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three pairs of lovers with space



“Variety in Age Preferences” is the fifth part of “Man/Boy Relationships”, the third section of “Adult Lovers”, the second chapter of Loving Boys, the encyclopaedic study of Greek love by the eminent Dutch lawyer, Edward Brongersma, of which the first volume (including this) was published by Global Academic Publishers in New York in 1986.


In his affectionate relations, a boy-lover nearly always prefers a certain age-group.[1] Those who claim to like “every human being with a penis between his legs, from zero to seventy-five years of age” are exceptional. Most boy-lovers find their sexual preference in one of the following age categories:

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a) Small children up to about 10 years of age. b) Prepubertal boys, from 11 to 13 or 14 years of age. c) Boys in puberty and adolescence, 13 to 16 years of age. According to criminal statistics, those who prefer girls are most strongly attracted to children of six to eleven years of age, while those who prefer boys are more commonly attracted to youngsters 12 to 15 years old.[2] Criminal statistics, however, seldom give a reliable picture of the phenomenon they supposedly depict.

As far as is known, men whose sexual preferences lie in the first category are few in number. In Pieterse’s investigation, they made up 16.6% of respondents. Bernard found that only 4% of his paedophile subjects preferred pre-pubertal boys exclusively.[3] Baurmann[4] analysed all criminal sexual cases in the German state of Lower Saxony between 1969 and 1972 – all in all 8058 cases. Of these, 108 concerned boys under the age of six (compared with 464 girls), 426 boys from 6-9 years (compared with 2026 girls), 343 boys from 10-13 years (compared with 3017 girls). (The remaining 1584 cases concerned girls from 14-20 years.) In evaluating these figures it must be kept in mind that the younger the child is the more likely parents are to lodge a sexual assault complaint with the police, and this distorts the statistics, increasing the percentage of lower-aged partners. In any case, in the small boy-lover social minority, those loving very young boys make up, again, a very small minority. Moreover, they are usually not sensitive to specifically boyish characteristics. Often they are drawn to both boys and girls, for their love goes out to the small child regardless of its gender.[5] Such men almost never discuss their feelings openly, with the result that next to nothing is known about them.

French village 1630. Priest paying d13

27:  An exception was Boisrobert, a close friend of the famous Cardinal Richelieu. He once told a group of young men that he was exhausted, “having screwed twice, first with a little girl, then with her brother. She was a virgin, and I had to pay twenty pistoles. The brother cost me only two écus. However, I had more pleasure with the brother than with the sister.[6]

The most beautiful, intense picture of a love relationship between an adult man and an eight-year-old boy was given by Tony Duvert in his novel Quond morut Jonathan.[7]

As for the two other groups (the lower limit of attraction varying from 8 to 12 years, the upper limit from 14 to 16), the specifically boyish characteristics are decisive, and thus the strict chronological age is not so important. The production of fertile seed is the usual test of having reached maturity, but this event has long been in the making and, mentally, it has for some time been clamouring to announce itself. The age at which puberty finally arrives, the day orgasm is accompanied for the first time by the ejaculation of seed, can vary greatly within the limits of normal development. We see healthy, strong boys of 15 still speaking with the high, clear voices and retaining the small, undeveloped, hairless genitals of childhood. The next moment we seen an equally healthy, strong boy of eleven carrying a male member of such size and thickness as to make many an adult man envious: excited to orgasm, he produces an abundant quantity of thick, opalescent ejaculate; his pubic region and thighs are covered with black hair and he addresses you in a bass voice.

For this reason statistics about the age-preferences of boy-lovers are completely unreliable; subjects are classified, numbers grouped, graphs drawn with blithe facility, giving the impression to the less critical student that he is learning something concrete, while actually he is not. It is easy, for example, to pretend that boys attain their peak of attractiveness for boy-lovers at age thirteen. Why thirteen? Because thirteen is the average age of attaining physical maturity. People who like immature boys will therefore say they prefer boys of 10 to 13, and people who like mature boys say they prefer boys 13 to 16. So when we add these two groups of people with really divergent tastes, we come up with an illusory peak which only obscures understanding. Such a graphic representation conceals the heterogeneity of the sample population.[8] It would be much better if research was founded upon a qualitative rather than a quantitative definition of preferred age. Or the question might better be asked as to whether the subject felt more attracted to a partner with small or large-size genitals.

12 971 Paris 1940

A good example of the former would be Michel Tournier, who noted in his famous novel Le roi des Aulnes[9] (1970): “A boy of twelve has come to a point of perfect poise and bloom which renders him the masterwork of Creation. The beauty of face and body at this age is so intense that all other forms of human loveliness are but a distant, pale reflection. And then – disaster! All the ugliness of the male: this hairy squalor and livid colour of adult flesh, the rough cheeks, this disfigured, stinking, exaggerated donkey’s pizzle: they all burst in upon the little prince and pull him down from his throne.”

Some authors have advanced the opinion that puberty is not suitable to use as a dividing line between age groups because boys may experience orgasm long before production of sperm. This observation, in many cases, is quite true. Kinsey found that about 80% of smaller boys were able to stimulate their penises to climax of lust feelings even though their members stayed dry or, in the last phase of pre-puberty, produced a few drops of clear, sperm-free slime from the Cowper glands.[10]  

Thore Langfeldt, after questioning a number of boys on this subject, concluded that lust feelings in orgasm remain more or less the same from the years of childhood on into adult life. “The onset of puberty did not seem to have an influence on the sensation, fantasy, or masturbatory patterns in those boys in the author’s study who had started masturbating before puberty.[11] His opinion is shared by Hertoft.[12] The Dutch psychiatrist Lochtenberg, however, thinks this most improbable because, with increased experience and the onset of sexual relations, voluptuous sensations are bound to change.[13]

28:  Professor Schérer was told in a conversation with Alcide (18 years): “Sex with others? Yes, I began having it very early, and I felt much closer to the people I slept with than to my mother and father, even though my relationship with my parents isn’t especially bad. I started doing it with my little female cousin when I was nine; later, at eleven, it was with a man. In the beginning, in the relationships, I was mainly interested in tenderness (…) As for sexual pleasure, at first that was maybe less important than it became later (…) I like to sleep with someone and to be caressed.” Schérer then asked him, “Do you have any thoughts about something which has always been poorly understood: the sexual feelings of immature children?” Alcide replied: “The physical excitement of sleeping with someone is the same, absolutely the same, at all ages, before and after maturity. I don’t believe that my desire is stronger now than it was earlier (…) In those days I didn’t ejaculate, but the feeling was equally good. I got a hard-on and liked being touched.[14]

29:  A subject of Ellis.[15] however, tells of a case of a boy where, at age 12, after attempted intercourse with a girl of the same age, “the hand flew to the phallus and worried it, and orgasm came on at once – the childish orgasm consisting of well-spaced spasms of the ejaculators, without the poignant preliminary nisus of the adult orgasm.”

30:  A German boy of fifteen telling a psychologist about his sex relations with a man which started when he was ten, said: “I came to like it more and more. At twelve, for the first time, seed started to shoot out. After that the pleasure was even more intense.” (Unpublished report, 1980, in the archives of the Brongersma Foundation)

Whichever may be true, the dry orgasm of the immature boy is strikingly similar to that of women in its capacity to be immediately repeated almost indefinitely. There is, however, a minority of boys unable to attain this orgasmic experience because of an itching sensation in their penises which becomes so intolerable they have to give up the attempt. Such boys only learn in puberty how to really enjoy their sexual potential.

But even if every immature boy were able to experience a full-blown orgasm, it would be naive to assume from this that there was no difference between mature and immature boys as sexual partners. It would show a lack of knowledge about modern sexology which rightly doesn’t consider the attainment of orgasm the exclusive aim of sexual contact. It would also reveal a lack of understanding of the findings of psychology which point to revolutionary changes brought about by puberty in a boy. He who makes such an assertion has certainly never himself had a lasting intimate relationship with a boy, and accompanied and observed him as he passed over this threshold.

Boy-lovers who have had such a relationship and discussed it with me have all said that their young friends acted quite differently after puberty.

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31:  A good example of this was communicated to me by a Dutch railway official: “I met Max for the first time when he was eleven. He wasn’t lacking in sexual experience: even since he’d been seven he had masturbated every night with his four-year-older brother who had taught him how to do it. With me, he was soon doing the same intimate things; we shared the same caresses, and in the course of the next year we went on to oral and anal relations as well. He finally came to prefer anal intercourse, which in itself could bring him close to orgasm. In my home, where he was a frequent visitor, he felt most at ease when he could go about stark naked, and he never refused sex when I asked him for it. But there was one thing which often drove me to the brink of despair: during our sexual relations he always wanted to look at television and his thoughts and conversation were far removed from my tender activities. I would be fondling him and trying through passionate lovemaking to guide us both to a peak of joy, when suddenly Max would come out with something about his homework or his rabbits. This situation persisted until, at thirteen, he went into puberty and began to ejaculate. His behaviour then changed completely. Now it was he who took the initiative in starting our sexual play – and he did it more frequently than I ever had. His sexual appetite was very strong and urgently needed satisfaction. The sense of sexual bliss overwhelmed him so completely that his eyes and ears were often impervious to everything around him. Intense pleasure glazed his eyes, and even if I shouted something he wouldn’t react. I have never experienced such a perfect sexual expression of love as I did with Max.” (Personal communication)

Michael Ingram, a Dominican friar and youth counsellor, in a report on 91 cases he investigated of such relations with immature boys, wrote: “It was quite clear to me that while some boys allowed the man to masturbate them, they did so solely for the gratification of being fondled. I received a number of reports of boys starting to engage in other activities as the man became more sexually excited, eating, fiddling with the dials of the radio, engaging in unrelated conversation, etc.[16] Casimir Dukahz sketched a similar situation in his amusing The Asbestos Diary.[17] He was having the most passionate sex with his boy-friend – and the boy wanted to discuss the exact height of some mountain…!

After puberty the boy seems to have forgotten all his physical experiences and has to rediscover and reinterpret his feelings, experiences and gender specifics. A new start is made in which, of course, earlier experiences still influence his later evolution.[18]

14 450 Florence 1800 d

It’s not just physically and emotionally that puberty makes a big change in a boy; its effects are mental and intellectual, too. A child may love music, appreciate a landscape, be pious, behave nicely to peers and friends. At puberty, however, this all gets a new dimension: deepened artistic appreciation, enthusiasm for nature, religious reflection, community with his fellow-beings – all undergo a great qualitative change and take on new depth. Sexuality, of course, is no exception. Rouweler-Wutz says[19]: “My studies of youthful sexuality have left me convinced that after puberty experiences are assimilated in quite a different manner than in the preceding period.” And Straver[20] writes: “Only at about the time of puberty does a child begin to reflect about himself, acquire a special sensitivity to how other persons look at him, begin to experience tension in his relations with other people. A child may be affectionate; only the adolescent can be ‘involved with another’ (…) Childish interaction is interaction, just as infant speech is speech. And in the same limited way childish sexuality is sexuality. But these words at once express the continuity as well as the caesura. Childish behaviour lacks something, and the adolescent understands this very well.” Up until now, skin contact has simply produced an agreeable sensation in the boy: fondling and kissing were fine. With puberty, however, as Lemaire[21] points out, the skin develops a new sensitivity. Much more clearly than before, one consciously feels the skin to be a surface upon which one may meet another person in touch and caress. Nudity thus acquires new erotic significance, symbolised by the penis: what in the child was just an unseemly protuberance, is now a big organ, dangling conspicuously as one walks, attracting the eye of the observer not just by this spontaneous movement but also by its colour and surrounding growth of hair.

During sexual activities the small child is mostly passive. With mature boys behaviour may be active as well, depending on the boy’s character and the inhibiting effect of social taboos. In any case, his sexual appetite is now more imperious: hitherto the attaining of orgasm – if possible – was just pleasant play; now the glands have begun to function and a regular expulsion of their accumulated products becomes necessary for his well-being. As one 17-year-old told me, “Without sex I couldn’t feel happy and healthy.” The urge simply to stimulate his genitals is much more pronounced in the mature than in the immature boy.

The foregoing has suggested that those men with a pronounced preference for prepubertal boys seek subjects who are not just physically but also mentally very different from those of men attracted to boys in and immediately after puberty.[22] Schérer[23] (1979, 235) stresses the psychological difference: the relationship with the small child is simple because the little boy doesn’t talk about love and lust; with a bigger boy, on the other hand, you can discuss such matters and think about them.

These groups of boy-lovers should thus be distinguished from one another, without, however, forgetting that there are never clear-cut limits in the domain of sexuality. Tony Duvert defines those who love immature boys as “paedophiles” and the others as “pederasts”.[24]  The picture is complicated, however, by the fact that an affectionate, close relationship tends to continue after the boy has passed the upper age limit which the man finds attractive. A “pederast” will rarely be satisfied with an immature boy; only under exceptional circumstances will he be induced to have sex with such a partner. But it is not at all exceptional for a “paedophile” to continue having sex with his young friend for some time after the boy reaches puberty. In the case of men looking less for casual pleasure with some attractive boy than for a lasting love relationship, the upper age limit is thus very flexible. The same holds true for “pederasts”, for with them it is frequently difficult to decide where boy-love ends and adult homosexuality begins.[25]

31:  (Continued) In Max’s case the bond between him and his adult friend was so deeply rooted that even after he lost his erotic appeal for the man, “sex still took place from time to time, even when Max was a married man of twenty-four.”

The ancient Romans were fully aware of this phenomenon and Petronius quotes the proverb: “Who has carried the calf may also carry the bull” (Cap XXV). “Paedophiles” and “pederasts” don’t differ so much in their actual sexual behaviour or their sexual potentialities as in their personal preferences.

From time immemorial, the growth of body hair rather than chronological age has defined the border between boy-love and homosexuality. With the appearance of the beard and increased hair growth on the lower abdomen and legs, ”a boy ceased to be an object of aesthetic appreciation and sensual desire,” observed Bloch.[26] In Epigram 220 of the Anthologia Graeca, Prometheus is made responsible for the “horrible beard” and the hair which comes on boys’ legs; it is only right that he be punished by Zeus, the poet sighs. In epigram 195 he laments, “As summer heat kills precious flowers, so hair soon destroys beauty.” It is an ever-recurring theme. Epigram 31:

Pamphilos, I swear it by Themis and by the wine in the cup
Which makes me unsteady: short is the time for love.
Look, your chin and your thighs are downy already
And other lusts will confound your senses tomorrow.

15 227 carrying jug of wine 50 BC d1

Likewise, Martial sends best wishes to friends, hoping that their young slaves may preserve the smoothness of their skin as long as possible.[27] Greeks and Romans alike used depilation to prolong the attractiveness of older boys.[28]

On this point they shared the same view as all other peoples among whom boy-love has been generally accepted. In Arab poetry the beloved boy is always designated “beardless”.[29] The Persians said when the first hairs of the beard sprouted: “The cheeks mourn the dead beauty.[30] According to Krauss, the Japanese called the beloved boy takenoko, i.e., bamboo shoot. Bamboo shoots are only edible when they are young and free of hair.[31]

In antiquity young slaves were sometimes castrated (by extraction or squeezing of the testicles) to preserve their smooth skin, just as boys were later castrated in papal Rome to preserve their soprano voices for the choir of the Sistine Chapel.


Continue to Lasting Friendships and Casual Meetings


[1] West, D., Homosexuality Re-Examined. London: Duckworth, 1977, 211; Wilson, G. D. & Cox, D. N. The Child Lovers. London: Peter Owen, 1983, pp. 17-18, 124. [Author’s references]

[2] Pieterse, M., Pedofielen over pedofilie. Zeist: NISSO, 1982, II 10-12. [Author’s reference]

[3] Bernard, F., Pädophilie–Liebe mit Kindern. Lollar: Achenbach, 1979, p. 89. [Author’s reference]

[4] Baurmann, M. C., Sexualität, Gewalt und psychische Folgen. 16. Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt, 1983, p. 678. [Author’s reference]

[5] Rush, F., Le secret le mieux gardé - L’exploitation sexuelle des enfants. Paris: Denoël/ Gonthier, 1980, pp. 240-241. [Author’s reference]

[6] Lever, M., Les bûchers de Sodome. Paris: Fayard, 1985, p. 125. [Author’s reference] Lever gives as his source for this: “Tallemant des Réaux, Historiettes, éd. Antoine Adam, Pléiade, I, pp. 392-417”(the only unexpurgated edition of Historiettes). It is true that Boisrobert said (p. 414) what Brongersma claims, but there was nothing exceptional about it except for Boisrobert’s licentiousness (as it was then seen) and his frankness: even in Europe, male sexual attraction to boys as well as females was taken for granted until at least the 17th century, though it was expected that the righteous would not act on it. However, though Boisrobert was talking of “a little girl” and her brother, there is not the slightest reason to suppose they were pre-pubescent, so this anecdote certainly does not support Brongersma’s contention that it is an exception to the rule that those attracted to the pre-pubescent “almost never discuss their feelings openly”. [Website footnote].

[7] Duvert, T., Quand mourut Jonathan. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1978. [Author’s reference]

[8] Bernard, F., Pädophilie–Liebe mit Kindern. Lollar: Achenbach, 1979, p. 88. [Author’s reference]

[9] [Author’s reference]

[10] Kinsey, A. C. et al, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948, p. 176; Abraham, F., Les perversions sexuelles. Paris: Productions de Paris, 1969, p. 121; Stockert, F.-G. von, Die Sexualität des Kindes. Stuttgart: Enke, 1956, p. 24. [Author’s references]

[11] Langfeldt, Th., Processes in Sexual Development. Childhood Masturbation. In: Constantine & Martinson (Eds.), Children and Sex. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1981, pp. 39, 67. [Author’s reference]

[12] Hertoft, P., Orgasmus und Nähe. In: Nørretranders (Ed.), Hungabe, Über den Orgasmus des Mannes. Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1983, p. 70. [Author’s reference]

[13] Lochtenberg, H., Pedofilie. Manuscript, 1981, p. 16. [Author’s reference]

[14] Schérer, R., L’emprise. Des enfants entre nous. Paris: Hachette, 1979, pp. 262-3. [Author’s reference]

[15] Ellis, H., Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Philadelphia: David, 1913, III 337. [Author’s reference]

[16] Ingram, M., The Participating Victim—A Study of Sexual Offences against Pre-Pubertal Boys. In: Cook & Wilson (Eds.), Love and Attraction. Oxford: Pergamon, 1979, p. 516. [Author’s reference]

[17] Dukahz, C., The Asbestos Diary. New York: Layton, 1966. [Author’s reference]

[18] Regt, W. de, Meisjes en jongens en hun seksualiteit. Deventer: Van Loghum Slaterus, 1982, pp. 13-14. [Author’s reference]

[19] Rouweler-Wutz, L., Pedofielen, in contact of conflict met de samenleving?. Deventer: Van Loghum Slaterus, 1976, VI. [Author’s reference]

[20] Straver, C. J., Jeugd-seksualiteit. Verbum 44, 6: 1977, p. 256. [Author’s reference]

[21] Jans, J., Seksualiteit en persoonlijkheidsontwikkeling in de jeugdjaren. Verbum 44, 6: 245-246, 1977, 245. [Author’s reference]

[22] Sebbar, L., Le pédophile et la maman. Paris: Stock, 1980, pp. 89-90. [Author’s reference]

[23] Schérer, R., L’emprise. Des enfants entre nous. 20. Paris: Hachette, 1979, p. 339.[Author’s reference]

[24] Duvert 1970, 21. [Author’s reference, which could be to either of two books in his bibliography]

[25] Wilson, G. D. & Cox, D. N. The Child Lovers. London: Peter Owen, 1983, p. 116. [Author’s reference]

[26] Bloch, I., Die Prostitution. Berlin: Marcus, 1912, I 412-413. [Author’s reference]

[27] Martialis IX, 56 ; II, 48. [Author’s reference]

[28] Borneman, E., Lexikon der Liebe. Frankfurt: Ullstein, 1978, pp. 85-86. [Author’s reference]

[29] Wagner, E., Abu Nuwas. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1965, p. 183. [Author’s reference]

[30] Burton, R. F., The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night – A Plain and Literal Translation. London: Burton Club, 1885, V 161. [Author’s reference]

[31] Krauss, F. S., Das Geschlechtsleben der Japaner. Lepizig: Deutsche Verlags A.G., 1907, I 315, II 222-223. [Author’s reference]




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